North Korea announced today it had successfully conducted its first nuclear test since 2006, catching the South and the US off guard and drawing a swift denunciation from Barack Obama. The underground test produced a 4.7-magnitude earthquake, but as with the previous test, it remains unclear whether the North has successfully expanded its weapons capabilities. Hours later, the country fired a short-range missile from its east coast.
The South Korean government, still in mourning over the suicide of its ex-president, held an emergency meeting, while Obama said in a statement that Pyongyang was "in violation of international law." A UN Security Council meeting has been scheduled for later today. The test comes amid growing questions about Kim Jong-Il's health and succession. "One has to wonder if this is part of the internal political transition that may be occurring inside North Korea," said an MIT professor.